Much prognostication today about how the Alito hearings will progress. The wonkosphere, in an attempt to look moderate if not reasonable, is limply flapping about with predictions of his inevitable confirmation. But I think this attempt to make themselves look like wizened elves results from a serious misreading of the current political terrain.
Chris Bowers, who is in DC blogging about the hearings for MyDD, says:
I am in DC today, as I will be for the rest of the week. While I am down here, one of the main things I will be working on is to defeat the nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court.Strip Search Sammy is an altogether different beast than John Roberts, and his hearing comes at quite a different time. The public is starting to get their first tastes of the corruption scandal growing like a cancer on the Republican party who are vulnerable just at the time they are the most visible. Despite his bluster, John Cornyn is rightly terrified that the free pass given him by the press in the Abramoff matter will end any day now. He's not the only one. There is considerable cover for an attack that didn't exist only months ago.
I want to make that last sentence clear. I believe the Democratic goal for the Alito hearings should be to defeat his nomination through a filibuster of 41 votes or more, and then to defeat the nuclear option with a vote of 51 votes or more. Samuel Alito is an unacceptable choice to sit on the Supreme Court of the United States.
And Alito himself is personally unappealing. Stiff, humorless, and comes off as a bit of a weirdo. People like Ron Wyden were afraid to go after Roberts because he was likeable, and Joe Biden learned to his peril that shredding the "nice guy" is the wrong place to try and make your bones. There is an opening for Democrats to capitalize on this as they try to tie unpopular Bush measures like the illegal NSA wiretaps to Alito's tail like a tin can.
And the RNC knows it. Ken Mehlman himself is meeting today with Malkin, Hugh Hewitt, Cap'n Ed, Red State, Political Teen and others to try and control the quite critical message in the blogosphere, and seeding the notion of inevitable failure into the opposition narrative is one of the tricks that plays well for the GOP.
So encourage your local wonk to go back to debating the finer points of interstate commerce regulation this week. They need to stop doing Ken Mehlman's work for him.